Jeremy Corbyn joins protesters in Lancashire to call for ban on fracking

Jeremy Corbyn has snubbed the boss of fracking firm Cuadrilla, meeting protesters instead at the gates of a shale gas exploration site and promising them his party would ban the practice.

Mr Corbyn spoke to a hundred or so people demonstrating at the Preston New Road site near Blackpool as police officers stood guard.

The site is the UK's only operational shale exploration operation and is controversial in Lancashire after small earth tremors were blamed on the process.

Mr Corbyn said fracking, a method of shale gas extraction through hydraulic fracturing underground, would have a damaging effect on the environment.

Asked if he had any plans to meet the firm's representatives, Mr Corbyn said: "As of this moment no. I'm here to announce our support for ending fracking, but I'm happy to talk to them because I do believe what they are doing is dangerous to our environment."

Ashley Derricott has more:

The first firm to carry out fracking in the UK had issued an open invitation to Jeremy Corbyn to visit their site in Lancashire - as he calls for a total ban on the process.

Protestors have raised environmental concerns.

Mr Corbyn has accused Boris Johnson of "bending the knee" to companies who want to profit from the extraction of shale gas.

He cites new research by Labour which says that if the UK fully exploits its shale gas reserves, the amount of carbon released would eliminate any hope of the government meeting its 2050 net-zero target.

We need urgent action to tackle the climate emergency, and that means the Prime Minister immediately banning fracking once and for all. It’s the next generation and the world’s poorest who will pay the price if this Conservative government continues to put the interests of a few polluters ahead of people.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour party
Credit: PA

Meanwhile, Cuadrilla CEO Francis Egan has urged Mr Corbyn to engage with the local workforce and "not to confine his listening to protestors at the gate."

I am very disappointed that Labour appear to favour continued and increasing levels of gas imports by ship from the Middle East, Africa or the United States or by pipeline from Russia rather than developing a well-regulated job creating UK shale gas industry. We are strongly opposed to exporting and in effect increasing our CO2 emissions by importing natural gas from further and further afield. Unless it has a better pathway to reach net zero CO2 than the Committee on Climate Change we call on the Labour Party to support Cuadrilla in setting a target for net zero imports of natural gas by 2050.

Francis Egan, Cuadrilla